Canada edges Czech Republic to remain perfect at World Under-18 Championship
Canada is undefeated in three games and will play Finland for the top seed in Group B on Tuesday, after defeating the Czech Republic 3-2.
Anthony Beauvillier scored two goals and Zach Sawchenko made 43 saves in the victory as Canada put up its best performance of the 2015 IIHF U18 World Championship so far.
Team Canada head coach Tim Hunter’s squad was 2W-0L entering the game against the Czechs, but had yet to be tested after wins over Latvia and Switzerland. The game started well for the Czechs when Pavel Zacha put his team up 1-0 midway through the opening period, racing into the Canadian zone behind the last defenceman, collecting the puck and beating goalie Zach Sawchenko with a deke between the legs.
Canada equalized later in the period with a goal from Parker Wotherspoon, who took advantage of heavy traffic in front of the Czech net and fired a low shot from the point that Czech goaltender Ales Stezka had no chance to see. The Canadians gained the lead six minutes into the second period thanks to a quick transition that saw Mitchell Stephens send Matt Barzal and Anthony Beauvillier on a two-on-one, Barzal setting up Beauvillier with a great pass for the 2-1 lead.
But a misplay by Canada resulted in a tying goal for the Czechs. Barzal attempted to get the puck to his defenceman to clear it out of the Canadian zone but didn’t see Radek Koblizek lurking behing him. Barzal’s clearing attempt effectively served up the puck to Koblizek, who wired it home with a slapshot knotting the game up 2-2.
Barzal didn’t let the mistake get to him however, coming right back on a power play in the third period. Takign the puck into the Czech zone and around the net, Barzal made a perfect pass in front of the net to Beauvillier for the Quebec native’s second goal of the game. Sawchenko did a great job shutting out the Czechs the rest of the way, sealing Canada’s third win of the tournament.
Canada has a day off before its final game against Group A co-leaders Finland. The Finns are also undefeated in three following their win over Latvia today, meaning the top seed will go to the winning team on Tuesday. The Czechs, meanwhile, will finish off the preliminary round against Switzerland, and may need to get some points out of that matchup depending on the results of tomorrow’s Switzerland-Latvia game.